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The Kind of Content One Finds on NBC, CBS or ABC
This has all the hallmarks of American network TV: plastic, overly attractive actors, shallow, formulaic script, cinematography resembling a Penthouse photo spread ( more soft focus, anyone?), and some kind of politically usable message for the campaign to make all politics identity politics.
Good job Netflix. Between your increasingly trite, unoriginal or downright stupid original content, or the piles of unwatchable content your programmers waste money on, you're making it really hard to justify the subscription price of $1.99.
What happened? Did someone new take over? Please, fire them.
World Without End (2012)
I have NOT read the book and it still sucked.
Unlike the first series, "Pillars of the Earth", this series was nothing but a way to hook people into watching it. The plot could really be summed up as "Man reached his goal...almost, but is knocked back down...five times.
In other words, this was the TV series version of "clickbait". So manipulative and devoid of any genuine expression or sentiment, I imagined, while watching this, a future where TV shows are nothing more than vehicles for stimulation - emotional, sexual, visual, whatever.
Then I realized that's not the future. It is now. All these shows, CSi, Ripper Street, others, all they are is delivery devices for an emotional stimulation - the way porn movies are constructed with some kind of "plot" designed to result in sexual encounters.
World Without End was essentially a kind of pornography, except it wasn't selling sex. It was selling rage and violence and injustice.
Was anyone buying? Not me.
Endeavour: Lazaretto (2017)
Can't we just have a murder mystery
Is there a requirement now that the producers of modern detective mysteries have to abandon the genre for personality driven drama instead of the good ole whodunit format that we all came to see? First Sherlock, and now this tripe.
We were 30 minutes in before we actually got to a murder mystery. And every episode now it's more and more about the personal lives of the characters than the actual crime.
I'm sure there are some out there who like this shift. I'd be willing to wager there are far more who do not. The most successful crime series of all time, at least in the States, is Law and Order. And guess what. It never deals with the personal lives of its characters.
That's because, compared to the personal lives of the people surrounding a murder, the day to day of the cops is extremely boring.
How can you even think it would be more interesting to dwell on some cop's relationship with his wife than a bloke whose wife was just found strangled to death? Sherlock was OK at first because the character was so bizarre. It worked as long as there was a good mystery thrown in. And then, of course, Benedict Cumberbatch.
But as we've just seen, you take away the mystery, and you take away the reason for there to even be a detective.
The only interesting thing about Morse's character is his ability to detect where others fail. That's fun and interesting.
Watching characters coughing all the time or lying in bed with a stroke is just self indulgent crap. Fodder in the absence of good writing.
I was really excited when Endeavour started. It was my favorite new show. Now, it has strayed so far from what made it good, I can't even bother to watch it.
I give this one high marks in every category.
The story was fun, intriguing, and intelligent. The screenplay was excellent and well adapted. And the performances were all pretty much flawless.
Well done all.
But equally rising to the challenge were the costume designers, set designers and cinematographer.
It was a beautiful piece to watch and highly entertaining.
More like this please.
How We Got to Now (2014)
I found this show unwatchable
I watched the episode on Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, inventor of the phonautograph. Fascinating topic.
I barely made it to the end. Between the host Steven Johnson's patronizing condescension as if his audience were three year olds, and the dreadfully slow pace at which information leaked out between all his cutesy stammers and stutters, not to mention the pauses to make room for yet another unneeded production gimmick, I found this program simply unbearable.
This was a wonderfully interesting subject. The first recordings of the human voice! Amazing.
But in some bizarre attempt to dumb it down to a 1st grade intellect, all the fascination was stripped away leaving a sickly sweet Leave it to Beaver meets Disney patina.
And most incredibly, the real gem of the show, the actual digitization of the original "phonoautographs" into renderable audio files, garnered a whopping 15 seconds of screen time.
One wonders if, perhaps, the producers were less enamored with personality and more on the actual subject matter, we may have been treated to a better treatment of it.
Even my 9 yr old found it slow and condescending. And when she realized that no further recording would be forthcoming, her exact words, unprovoked or influenced by me, were, "Aaaah. Bummer."
Cut Bank (2014)
Entertaining to the end
I just watched this and found it very enjoyable. The script was compelling, well performed and well directed. The performances were top notch and I will not be surprised at all to see Oscar activity for Bruce Dern. His was a ravishing performance of a ravishing character. Fun for all.
The story was tight and well told with sufficient lack of predictability to keep me fully engaged - a rarity these days. Matt Shakman, who I was unfamiliar with till this, is a director I will watch for.
Overall, this was a fun, intriguing movie and would recommended it to anyone.
A quick sidenote about the performance of Liam Hemsworth. It looks like we have some disgruntled people who have a vendetta.
I had never even heard of Liam Hemsworth till watching this film. But his performance was flawless.
No Offence (2015)
If we can't entertain you with a good story and interesting, well played characters, we'll just try and shock you to death and call it entertainment. That is the trend television has followed for many years now. And never has it been more obvious than with 'No Offence'. But one wonders where this will lead. The Car Crash channel, where we can sit and watch mangled bodies being removed from mangled automobiles. Riveting. The problem with shocktainment is the effect wears off. We become desensitized. And the only way to remedy that is to up the dose until eventually you're all watching the Torture Channel brought to you live from Qatar. No? Well we don't need to imagine the future to hate this crap. It's low enough and depraved enough to hate it as it is.
I'm Sorry, But This Was just a Horrible Story
Just horrible. An audience can endure a lot of hardship if there's a seed of hope. And that's really this movie's downfall. It's hopeless. Then it gets even more hopeless. And just when you couldn't think it could be any more hopeless, it gets worse - five more times.
It's one thing to create conflict for your characters. But this movie is the equivalent of making a movie about a baseball team, and they lose, fail, die off, lose some more, fail some more, continue losing, and then finally, at the end, for reasons unfathomable, they suddenly win.
The bottom line is it was just a downer. A long, tedious, depressing downer. For three hours. And then, in the last 10 minutes of the film, everything's all suddenly better.
All of that talent, amazing production, amazing performance, just to tell this horrible, depressing story.
As always, I study the faces of people in the theaters, and on the way. There's wasn't a 9 out of 10 face in sight. Everyone I saw looked as tired and fatigued as I must have.
And yet we have a IMDb rating of 9.1? Sorry. I don't buy it.
The Equalizer (2014)
I Can't Trust a Denzel Washington Movie Anymore
Sad. This was barely a notch above a Steven Seagal movie. But worse, it had Denzel Washington in it. That hurt me.
The movie was as cliché' and stupid as most action movies. This one seemed slightly unique in its bland of the revenge porn template with a slasher gore thing. Only the slasher was the protagonist.
Seeing Washington put a screwdriver into the back of someone's skull, then pull the trigger, was truly the low point of his career. But it was also another low point in mainstream American film.
The moral inversion is almost complete. We have serial killers as heroes. Why not a madman with power tools.
This kind of violence is supposed to be funny. The chainsaw massacre, so over the top, you laugh out loud. But what Antoine Fuqua has done with this movie is attached psychopathic bloodletting with the cause of justice. And this isn't just bloodletting. Mel Gibson perfected that years ago.
This is psychopathic bloodletting. By another American psychopathic hero.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
This Movie Is An Embarrassment - For the Creators, and the People Who Recommended It
What an utterly sad and offensive legacy for Tom Clancy. In Hollywood, truly, nothing is sacred.
Instead of the thought provoking, truth to power story we came to expect from a Jack Ryan movie, this brings us more of Hollywood's waronterrah porn.
It was interesting a bit back in 2002 maybe. Let it go. As propaganda, you've pretty much saturated your market. For the rest of us, you've actually made expensive CGI FX boring.
The thing that made Jack Ryan more interesting than a Steven Seagal character was he was thoughtful, intelligent, and not an action figure. And Clancy raised some fascinating dilemmas with American might and power.
What is this? Garbage.